Over Priced Idol Memorabilia Under Investigation

kpride, Aug. 18, 2015, 8:28 a.m.

After non-governmental organizations suggested that merchandise related to idol groups was overpriced, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) announced that they have started an investigation. The Seoul YMCA conducted research on the price of idol group merchandise, and requested that the FTC launch a formal investigation. The target of investigation was narrowed down to SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment, which have represent the most idol groups and sell the largest quantities of idol merchandise. SM and YG design and sell their goods through their affiliates SM Brand Marketing and YG Next.

Idol merchandise, which includes character products made with pictures or animated characters of idol stars, is being criticized by the YMCA. They claim that the entertainment companies are abusing their monopoly power to sell products at artificially high prices.

The FTC is said to have collected data on the price of idol star goods before going into any judicial investigation. According to research, EXO earphones were priced at 1,230,000 won, and letterman jackets related to the group Bigbang sold for 175,000 won.

The YMCA evaluated the pricing as a ‘star marketing scheme that feeds off the innocence of fandom’. On the other hand, there are opinions that the FTC cannot regulate entertainment companies for selling goods, using legal principles regarding market dominant positions. The Fair Trade Institute, a non-governmental organization, points out the difficulties of applying legal measures. “It would be hard to apply the Fair Trade Act if the size of the market related to idol star goods cannot be measured.”

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